Moscow was a wonderful dreamlike whirling blurring giddy rush on a roller coaster ride… stepping out of your car with your cheeks and hair still blowing back behind you and a grin that hurts. Add to that a pounding heart and an armful of flowers that hides your face, and a prayer that it all worked, and you have Al Jarreau at Crocus City Hall concert venue in Moscow on February 27.

I can’t believe I’ve been to Moscow so many times, more than 9! This time, after a no-sleep all nighter, we did a 20 hour travel day arriving at 1:30 in the afternoon in our hotel. I don’t sleep on planes, so I took a nap and met with Joe Turano to discuss the new music and a setlist of songs for the next day. The concert will be videotaped before a live audience, and I’ll duet with Larisa Dolina, a really wonderfully accomplished jazz-pop-R&B singer from Moscow with a huge audience that loves her music and accomplishments. I do too. George Duke, Stanley Clark, and I have all shared the stage with her. Now let’s sleep fast!

The next day, we had a one hour-rehearsal at 3:30 in the afternoon, and bam, it’s 6 o’clock and we’re on. We glided along real nicely in our new program of ‘Let’s start at the beginning… Rainbow music.’ But things really take off when I go to the side of the stage and surprisingly bring out Larisa, and we pop and spark with Wonder Where You Are, a funky little R&B George Duke groove that I sang with her on her last CD, and then medley/meld into Goodhands Tonight, a gospel-ish sweet ballad with space for some real shouting bluesy improvisation which we both did at the end of the song. We were over at the right hand edge of the stage with me escorting her out just as I had escorted her onto stage. They went crazy.

Zoom! Everything changed and took flight again in another direction when a five year old little girl came to the front right of the stage with flowers. I almost ran to her… Suddenly it all became a precious new reality for everybody. This is not a movie on TV—“Oh my, look at that little girl! She just gave flowers to Al Jarreau! He’s hugging her, and kissing her mother’s hand.” Pow! It all exploded. They came with roses as big as my fist. I was swimming in long-stem flowers. I did an immediate autograph for her right there. “I need a sharpie!!!” Turano brings me one. John Calderon and I do a deliberate mug shot for a guy who is stage left… holding position til the flash goes off. The house lights have been up for a while now and everybody can see everything. Including each other. All a blur now for me. Even Take Five, She’s Leaving Home, and Mornin’. I blinked twice more, and Larisa and I do this new arrangement of Summertime as an encore. It’s slow and moody at first, then snaps into groovin’ tempo. And when she stays and we’re immediately into Roof Garden, everybody joins in as we sing “PARTY PARTY PARTY!” Like they were part of the band.

Backstage, we’re overwhelmed with guest list people and their guests, who have a friend. It’s great. Alex Ivanoff, one of our local promoters, with that boyish grin, is all aglow like a Christmas Tree. And there’s Irene with Oos and Ahs and hugs and presents for me and Susan. We’re all hoping that we got enough good footage from the videotaping to make a nice television show. That could really help my whole career here. I’m sure we did just fine.

Thank you, Moscow, see you soon!
Love, Al

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